Cal Poly Pomona is seeking to expand the use of “smart” trash containers embedded with technology to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
Across the campus, there are 22 Bigbelly high-capacity containers that contain trash-compacting capabilities and 27 standard-capacity receptacles. Both types of containers are embedded with Cloud-based sensors that send a signal when capacity is reached. The high-capacity containers are solar powered to provide electricity for the trash-compacting components.
The Landscape Services Department receives a signal when a Bigbelly container is full, saving landscaping crews from making daily rounds to check on and empty trash bins.
“The time we save on waste and recycling collections allows our grounds staff to integrate trash collections more easily with our current responsibilities,” said Richard Farmer, the manager of Landscape & Auto Shop Services. “Using this system, we work smarter.”
The Landscape Services Department, which is housed within the Department of Facilities Planning and Management, already uses eco-friendly trash can liners made from recycled farm irrigation tubing. The Bigbelly trash containers and new liners aim to enhance Cal Poly Pomona’s efforts in sustainability, which include solar power, reclaimed water for irrigation, electric and hybrid vehicles, and LEED-certified buildings.
Landscape Services is seeking to add 13 high-capacity stations, which would increase the total number of containers to 35, and 73 standard-capacity stations, which would boost the number of those receptacles to 100. There are 262 trash containers of various types stationed across the campus.
When compared to the 262 traditional trash bins, the target number of 135 Bigbelly containers on a monthly basis could:
- Collect 1,866 more gallons of trash
- Reduce the number of collections at stations by 31 percent
- Slash the number of trash bags used from 5,685 to 3,928
- Lower labor hours from 173 to 69
- Cut collections from five days to three days
The system helps boost efficiency by utilizing a Cloud-based management console and mobile app that allows for trash management, monitoring and scheduling collections.
“The system allows us to monitor which containers fill up the fastest so we can deploy crews on a regular basis instead of sending out crews every day,” Farmer said. “This allows us to do our work more efficiently and help maximize the resources of the university.”
The collection system offers containers with larger capacity, automated collection notifications, and real-time reporting and analytics. Other benefits include a uniform recycling program and measurable recycling diversion rates.
Bigbelly trash containers also could be used as a marketing platform for advertising or announcements from campus organizations and clubs. The receptacles also could be utilized as cell phone towers or WiFi hotspots.
Another advantage of the Bigbelly containers is that the bins are self-contained. This prevents wind-blown litter, access by animals or visible waste and overflows.
Bigbelly waste collection systems are being used at campuses including UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, the University of Florida and the University of Illinois at Chicago.